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Thursday - November 15, 2001
- Xbox Officially Enters Console Competition Arena
- Harry Potter Set For Record Number of Theaters
- Writers Guild Challenges Nickelodeon Again
- News Link of the Day - Filmmakers Send Messages with Legos

XboxXbox Officially Enters Console Competition Arena
(by Microsoft is about to take a huge hit in an attempt to take a huge chunk out of the video game console business. Today Xbox went on sale nationwide with some stores opening at just after midnight to sell units. Because Xbox costs more to produce than the sale price of $299, industry analysts predict that Microsoft will incur up to $2 billion in losses before realizing a profit from securing a corner of the video game marketplace. Microsoft set aside a massive $500 million to help promote its new gaming system.

On Monday, Xbox will face competition from Nintendo, which is launching its new GameCube system; finally getting away from cartridges in favor of CDs.

Sony isn't making any major moves to combat the two new system launches. Many estimated that Sony might cut the price of its Playstation 2 unit, but the company has no plans of doing so and believes that Playstation 2 will outsell Xbox and GameCube this holiday season.

Xbox's launch marks one of the first times that a console has premiered first in America instead of Japan. Select games available now include Shrek, NASCAR Thunder 2002, Arctic Thunder, Amped: Freestyle Snowboarding, NFL Fever 2002, AirForce Delta Storm, Cel Damage, The Simpsons Road Rage, and Kabuki Warriors.

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Harry Potter Set For Record Number of Theaters
(by Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone opens tomorrow in a record number of theaters and on a record number of screens. The two and a half hour FX-filled movie will open in 3,672 theaters while playing on over 8,000 screens. Some theaters are even holding showings at midnight with some of those showings already sold out! Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone should easily break all box office records this weekend including highest opening day gross, highest Saturday gross, highest Sunday gross, and highest opening weekend ever. Some of this, however, could come at the expense of Monsters, Inc. which has enjoyed a huge box office showing since opening November 2 and will now see most of its kid crowd migrate to Harry Potter.

Initial reviews for Harry Potter were highly positive but have since quickly melted as a number of mixed to negative reviews start hitting media outlets.

"The book was better--richer in mood, in thrilling melodrama, in joy--than director Chris Columbus' meticulous, stolid film," says Time critic Richard Corliss. He further calls much of the action "often stodgy, humorless" and refers to the reaction shots as "clumsy".

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Writers Guild Challenges Nickelodeon Again
(by The Writers Guild of America, west (WGAw) has launched an advertising campaign to ensure that Nickelodeon Animation Studios adheres to the standards of the International Council of Toy Industries (ICTI) Code of Business Practices or the Fair Labor Association (FLA) Workplace Code of Conduct in the licensing and manufacturing of toys and other merchandise based on two Nickelodeon animated characters SpongeBob SquarePants and Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius.

"Nickelodeon has built its global success based on the premise that it is a network that cares about children," said Victoria Riskin, President of the WGAw. "Neither Nickelodeon nor its licensee JAKKS Pacific of Malibu has responded to the guild's request to sign the ICTI or FLA codes of conduct which prohibit forced labor, child labor and require respect for the rights of employees to be represented by a union. According to JAKKS Pacific's Annual Report, it 'contract[s] the manufacture of most of [its] products to unaffiliated manufacturers located in China.' We are very concerned that this is one more example of the company refusing to respect basic standards of fair treatment for employees. Last month, Nickelodeon, a subsidiary of Viacom, refused to honor a secret-ballot vote by its animation writers in favor of WGA representation."

"During the upcoming holidays, Nickelodeon will release Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius in movie theaters and launch an advertising campaign for toys, clothing and other merchandise, continues Riskin. "We sincerely hope Nickelodeon will honor the spirit of the season by signing the codes of conduct, requiring their licensees to do the same and by coming to the bargaining table to negotiate a fair contract for the benefit of Nickelodeon writers and their children."

The Writers Guild has been engaged in a dispute with Nickelodeon Animation Studios in trying to secure bargaining representation for several writers.

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News Link of the Day - Filmmakers Send Messages with Legos

According to the New York Times:

"...That's right: Lego. The brightly colored plastic blocks that snap together to create all manner of shapes have inspired a niche world of filmmaking called brick films. Lego directors like Mr. Weychert use the traditional technique of stop-motion animation, shooting the film frame-by-frame and moving the figures between shots to create the illusion of motion..."

Click here for the full story. (free registration may be required to view article)

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These news articles and all content are ©copyright 2001 by Joe Tracy and may not be reused for any purpose without expressed written consent of the author and Digital Media FX. All rights reserved.

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